Monday, November 17, 2014

Ubuntu on Gigabyte P15F V2

I tried to install Ubuntu 14.04 on a Gigabyte 15F V2, i74710MQ, 8G DDR3, 1TB HD.I know that this model is sold in France with Ubuntu pre-installed. In Australia I had no such luck. After checking the warranty I decided to replace the 1TB HD with a 128GB SSD. So if it goes in for repairs I can just reinsert the original HD and pretend that I have been using Windows all along. It comes with this massive 2 year warranty, but with the proviso that if you don't use it as laid out in the user guide this will void the entire warranty. With that grain of salt swallowed I proceeded with installation. In order to get it to boot into Ubuntu 14.04 from a DVD I had first to disable the UEFI. This is a simple matter after pressing F2 during startup, and turning the UEFI into "legacy" mode. Once installed, I noticed that the wifi card didn't work. So I installed directly via an ethernet cable to my router. To get the wifi card working I had to install the new driver. (I cloned the repository, then built and installed it.) Following that I had a pretty much perfect installation. I would recommend this model if you want a Linux laptop and don't mind paying the Microsoft tax. My only gripe so far is that although the motherboard is by Gigabyte they seem to have used a Clevo shell for the laptop. And my last Clevo developed several faults just 8 months into its lifespan. But this model is more robust, if also heavier. Battery life is nowhere near that suggested elsewhere (4 hours??). I'm getting around 2 hours on a new battery, and the charger is on the big side: 120W and about 7.5x15cm. The question is: what other good Linux laptops are out there for this price? My main gripe is the lack of a backlit keyboard, which adds about $5 to the keyboard price. I really miss it when working in the dark.

On the positive side the trackpad is good, and the buttons are tolerable. The screen is very bright. In fact I have to keep having to turn it down. The keyboard is responsive and robust. It's powerful cpu-wise, and if you use the 1TB HD, also capacious.

Addendum 1: the trackpad buttons get stuck because the case gets caught in a raised position. If that happens just push the front edge of the case near the trackpad buttons down until it clicks back.

Addendum 2: The RTL8723BE driver in Ubuntu 14.04 doesn't handle bluetooth, so forget about buying bluetooth headphones for this baby. In the end, frustrated at having to use cabled earphones, I swapped it for an Intel 7260 I just had lying around (as you do), which is well supported.

Addendum 3: For Ubuntu system 15.10 I used the "live" install from a usb drive. I had many errors when booting from the device, but that USB worked perfectly in another laptop. The problem seemed to be the hardware, since it complained about the ePCI bus having a fault, and that I should check the "cabling" (?). So I removed all drives including the DVD (there's a little screw you remove in the case holding it then you can pull it out) and any auxiliary drives you installed. But in my case it required like 10 reboots before it would even run the installer. I don't know why, but every time it got a little bit further. Then you must do two things once you finally have ubuntu running: 1) run sudo apt-get update in the terminal, then run software update and 2) install the NVIDIA graphics driver "tested and proprietary" in Software Updates->Additional Drivers. Don't use the default X.Org X Server - or you will get random screen freezes. Once I did all that everything worked perfectly, but what a hell it was to get there.

Addendum 4: After 1 year three months the case is holding together. The screen hasn't fallen off, although there are a few groans in the chassis they are likely due to my falling over on concrete with the laptop in my backpack. Screws pop out now and again so it is good to have a screwdriver handy. Other than that the "structural integrity" of this cyber-space-craft is at about 70%. Not bad given how much I use it every day.

Addendum 5: The DVD drive is iffy. It works but it is overly sensitive to dvds that have some damage. The playback stops too readily after encountering an error, rather than than trying very hard to skip over damaged portions. The same DVDs in my cheap Toshiba however, usually play just fine.


  1. Hi, I have just got one "with taxed paid", planning to have an ubuntu inside. Came here and thanks for your sharing!

  2. Any link to the warranty which states you can't change OS?
    I can't see it on their site.

    1. Well it does say this in the warranty card that came with the computer: "unauthorized repairs or tampering ... usage not conforming to the proper operating instructions, as laid out in the user guide, etc then this will void the entire warranty of the product". And in the user guide it only talks about Windows, although it it is brief. So interpret that as you will.

    2. Did you need any boot parameters - NOAPIC nouveau.modeset=0 etc - to get it to run? I can't even get the ubuntu live installer to run - I keep getting soft lockups on CPUs and other mysterious errors. The Ubuntu 15.10 mate installer strangely enough does run for a bit but freezes any time I run gparted or try to install. I'm trying to install dual boot with windows 10 which means UEFI mode, so perhaps that is the issue.

      How is the dual graphics working for you?

  3. I haven't used the dual graphics. Yes I also had considerable difficulty installing 15.10. It took a day but eventually it is all working and worth it - the networking works perfectly. Maybe you are referring to the graphics freezes, which I solved by installing the NVIDIA tested drivers. If you go into software updates they are listed there under "additional drivers". You must install it, since the open source graphics drivers don't work.
    I didn't use any parameters during install - not quite sure what you mean - but I did remove all drives except for the install drive, then put them back afterwards. I had to boot like ten times before it would go through the entire boot sequence and run the installer.